Sunday, December 26, 2010

Christmas Day and Turtle Cheesecake

Christmas Day was so much fun for this grandma! All of my kids were here.

Jaclyn and Lorelei are new BFFs (Best Friends Forever)

Lydia enjoyed being held by anyone as long as she had her pacifier and someone to cuddle with :)

Our sweet girl

Noah slept through it all

We had lots of good food, too, of course, and this was our dessert Turtle Cheesecake. Turtles are probably my favorite candy so I knew I would love cheesecake made from the same ingredients.
I was right!
I adapted the recipe from the inside of a Philadelphia cream cheese package.
Turtle Cheesecake
2 cups chocolate cookie crumbs
6 tablespoons butter, melted
1-14 oz bag of caramel candies*
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup pecan halves
3 packages (8 oz. each) cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla
3 eggs
2 squares semi-sweet baking chocolate*
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Double-wrap with aluminum foil a 9- or 10-inch springform pan.

Mix the crumbs and the butter and press into the bottom and 2 inches up side of a 9-inch springform pan. Place the caramels and milk in a small microwavable bowl. Microwave on HIGH 3 minutes or until caramels are completely melted, stirring after each minute. Pour 1/2 of the caramel mixture into the crust. Refrigerate 10 minutes. Set remaining caramel mixture aside for late use.
Beat the cream cheese, sugar and vanilla with an electric mixer on medium speed until well blended. Add the eggs one at a time until blended. Pour over the caramel mixture in the crust.
**Place your double-wrapped in foil springform pan in a larger pan (such as a roasting pan). Put enough water into the larger pan until the water is halfway up the side of the springform pan.
Place pans in the oven and bake for 1 hour 5 minutes to 1 hour 10 minutes or until center is almost set. Run a knife or spatula around the side of the springform pan to loosen the cake. Remove from the larger pan. Let cool completely and remove the foil and sides of springform pan. Chill in refrigerator at least 4 hours.
Place the pecan halves on the cake in any way desired. With the remaining caramel mixture, drizzle the cake in any decorative way you like. Melt 2 squares of the semi-sweet baking chocolate in a microwavable bowl on HIGH, stirring at least every minute until just until melted. Drizzle over the cake.
*If you don't want to do all the unwrapping of candies and the melting, you could certainly use caramel sauce that is used for ice cream. You could also use a chocolate sauce, too.
**This is how I bake all of my cheesecakes. They come out perfectly just about every time, without cracking.

Christmas Eve Food-It's All About the Appetizers!

Christmas Eve is always a much more casual affair than Christmas Day for us. It's about appetizers mostly and fun food. Our third daughter, Jessica, and our son-in-law, Rich, were here with my husband and I along with our home-from-college daughter, Jaclyn. We had a good time of eating, playing games, and watching a holiday movie.

My daughter, Jessica, made a new recipe called Jalapeno Popper Spread and it is so good and much easier than actually making jalapeno poppers, one of our favorite fun foods. We found that is was good warm and at room temperature. You can serve it with tortilla chips or crackers.

I made a cheeseball, which is nothing more than 8 ounces of cream cheese, softened, blended together with cheese spread (I chose Cheddar this year). I roll it into chopped walnut pieces wrapped in wax paper into a ball and chill until firm. We love this with crackers and it's a recipe that I learned from my mom.

My husband is a sandwich lover so I made my grandma's recipe for BBQ Pork (some people call it pulled pork) sandwiches with coleslaw. Since this is my dear Grandma's recipe I will give it it's own post later. My son-in-law asked me if my daughter (his wife) had the recipe for BBQ pork. I told him I would make sure she did! There's just nothing more affirming to a cook than for someone to ask for the recipe on a dish he or she has made.

Our dessert consisted of all the goodies we had made on our Baking Day, well, whatever was left :)

Our Christmas Baking Day

The preparations for Christmas were a whirlwind of activity for us, as I know it was for all of you, too. The baking, the shopping, the decorating, it's all pretty normal for everyone at this time of year. And, yes, I know that Christmas is past for the year 2010 but I do want to share things that made it special for us this year. I hope your Christmas celebrations were wonderful as well. I've already shared the best Christmas present this year for us-our new grandson.

Something that has become a tradition for us since our first daughter was married five years ago, we have set aside an afternoon before Christmas to do some baking together. It was a little different this year since our oldest daughter wasn't able to be with us. She just had our first grandson and he was in a Chicago hospital with some complications due to his birth, so she was with him. But, everyone else was able to be with us. Lydia joined me in the kitchen for some snuggling.

Lorelei enjoyed sampling all the goodies.

Jaclyn is showing off her artwork.

It was a very good time. We always make Sugar Cookies with icing and sprinkles, which are pretty traditional for lots of people. It's a must with us. My mom always made them, too. Over the years we've added some other recipes that we have learned to expect but we also try new ones, too.

Easy Oreo Truffles-These are incredibly good and just like the title of the recipe very easy. My daughter made them with the mint oreos this year, which takes these candies to whole new level!

Chocolate-Marshmallow Pillows-This was a new recipe for us and they are really delicious with the surprise marshmallow inside.

Pretzel Turtles-These were easy and lots of fun to make, something the kids would have fun helping with.

Paula's Loaded Oatmeal Cookies-These are my youngest daughter's specialty. She got the recipe a couple of years ago from the Food Network website and everybody that tastes these cookies loves them, even people that aren't crazy about oatmeal cookies. They are that good.

White Chocolate Fudge-This fudge is so yummy-I love how the orange flavor comes through, and we found that dried cherries are just as good as the dried cranberries in this recipe. We've been making this for the last 3 or 4 years now.

And last but not least, we always make Chex Party Mix, the only savory treat that we make on our Baking Day. I love the microwave method which doesn't take as long and leaves room in the oven for our other goodies.

I will be sharing more about how we celebrated Christmas 2010 in future posts.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas!

The last week has been incredibly busy with the birth and delayed homecoming of our new grandson, shopping and wrapping of Christmas gifts, as well as the baking and cooking I have been and will be doing in the next day or so. Oh, I'm getting the house ready for company tonight and tomorrow, too. Whew! I should be totally wiped out but I'm very excited about all of my children and grandchildren being together tomorrow for Christmas Day.

I've wanted to do some posting on all the delicious goodies the girls and I have been making but time has gotten away from me, and we have made some really good things! I will be sharing some of the recipes in the next few days and I have totally been eating way too much (Yum!).

I hope each of my readers have a very Merry Christmas and a very Blessed New Year. May your days be merry and bright! And God's blessings on you!

Graphics courtesy of All Posters.

Monday, December 20, 2010


I just wanted to pop in with a couple of pictures of our sweet babies. This is our newest, little Noah. He and his mommy and daddy are all on their way home finally! He is doing so well. They did an ultrasound on his brain this morning and everything is looking so good.
This is our other new grandchild, Lydia. I shared photos of her when she was first born but now she is 2 1/2 months old. She is already rolling over from tummy to back holds her head up on her own very well. She loves to be talked to and makes lots of cute baby noises.
I will be sharing more photos soon as Christmas Day approaches and everyone will be at our house. We are just so thankful that our new baby boy is healthy and doing so well. Thank you for all your prayers and well wishes.
I've been doing some cooking and baking but not as much as usual with all the baby activity lately. I will be back to posting more yummy things soon!

Friday, December 17, 2010

A Beautiful Grandson!

I just wanted to give the news about our new grandbaby. My daughter went to the doctor on Monday afternoon and the doctor was a little concerned that the baby would be pretty big and my daughter is not a big girl, and since her due date was on Sunday, they decided that she would be induced. We went in on Monday morning and did a first level round of inducement, which just meant that they would give her a very small dose of medication (I don't remember the name right now) to get her body ready for labor and to see if she would go into labor on her own. This lasted for 12 hours with 2 more doses. Nothing much happened.

She was then given pitocin and for the next few hours she was progressing pretty well. After 2 hours of pushing (!) our baby boy was born and not doing too well. The cord had been wrapped around his neck and he was blue. He was rushed to the team of pediatric workers, they got him breathing but they did want to do some testing. They found blood on his brain and was then transferred to a hospital in Chicago so that he could be watched by a neurosurgeon. Today, he seems to be doing pretty well. He is off the oxygen, eating and doing all the things a newborn should be doing. The blood on his brain is stable, which means it isn't growing, but he may still need surgery. My daughter and son-in-law are waiting for the neurosurgeon to examine him and tell them if surgery would be necessary.

We are, of course, hoping that he won't need surgery and that he will be able to come home soon. Your prayers would be greatly appreciated. By the way, his name is Noah Jonathan. He was 8 lb 4 oz and 21 inches and he is absolutely beautiful if I do say so myself :)

I will continue to update as I have news.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Indonesian Ginger Chicken

Have you ever made a dish that was so good that everybody at the table was exclaiming over it and you just knew that it was a recipe you would be making again and again? Well, this is one of those recipes. So good, so sweet and tasty. This makes lots of chicken so you could definitely halve the ingredients or go ahead and make the whole recipe and freeze what is leftover for another dinner.

Indonesian Ginger Chicken

1 cup honey
3/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup minced garlic, about 8 to 12 cloves
1/4 cup peeled and grated ginger root
2 chickens (3 1/2 pounds each) or other in-bone chicken pieces equivalent to the same weight (thighs work really well)

In a small saucepan, cook the honey, soy sauce, garlic, and ginger root until the honey is melted and incorporated into the other ingredients. In a large roasting or baking pan, lay the chicken pieces in a single layer skin side down. Pour the sauce over the chicken pieces, cover tightly with aluminum foil and put in the refrigerator overnight.
The next day, preheat the oven to 350. Place the pan in the oven and bake for 15 minutes. Uncover the pan, turn the chicken skin side up, and raise the temperature to 375. Continue cooking for another 45 minutes or until the juices run clear and the sauce is a rich dark brown.
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Monterey Beans

I'm a big fan of bean and rice dishes but if there isn't much flavor it falls flat in my book so when I found the original recipe for Monterey Beans from the Urban Housewife I knew I had a winner. I've added garlic to the recipe and instead of using fresh tomatoes, which don't have much taste this time of year, I usually use canned diced or pureed tomatoes.
Monterey Beans

4 slices bacon, chopped or 1/2 pound sausage
1 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped green pepper
1 cloved garlic, minced
2 cups cooked pinto beans
2 chopped tomatoes or 1 can diced or pureed tomatoes (it all works)
1/4 cup beef broth
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon salt or to taste
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Saute the bacon or sausage in a little olive oil for a couple of minutes. Add the onion and green pepper and saute until the onion is translucent. Add the rest of the ingredients except the cheese and simmer for about 10 mintues. Add the cheese over low heat and stir until mixture is smooth, about 5 minutes. Serve over rice if desired. 6 servings.
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Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Creamy Mustard Meatballs

I found the original recipe for this on a blog a couple of years ago and what attracted it to me was not only the fact that it sounded so good, but it was a pretty quick recipe and made with ingredients that were almost always in my pantry or freezer. I've tweaked it a little to make it more the way we like it and it turned out so creamy and flavorful when I made it yesterday. The meatballs were very tender and moist. You could use ground beef with this dish instead of the turkey, too.

Creamy Mustard Meatballs

1 pound ground turkey
1 cup breadcrumbs
4 tablespoons chopped onion
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons, plus 2 teaspoons mustard (I've used dijon and spicy brown mustard-regular mustard would work, too)
1/2 bag (8 oz) egg noodles
2 1/4 cups chicken or beef stock
3/4 cup sour cream
4 tablespoons cornstarch
Salt and pepper
Chopped parsley to sprinkle over the top as garnish

Mix together the following in a medium bowl: ground turkey, breadcrumbs, chopped onion, 2 tablespoons mustard, salt and pepper. Shape into meatballs and bake at 400 degrees on a lightly greased cookie sheet about 15 to 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook the egg noodles until just tender in boiling water in a large pot. Drain and set aside.

In a saucepan, whisk together chicken or beef stock, remaining 2 teaspoons mustard, and cornstarch until smooth. Bring to a boil until thickenened. In a small bowl, stir about 1 tablespoon of hot mixture into the sour cream. Turn the heat to low and stir in the sour cream mixture being careful not to boil, just heating through. Add salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat and stir in the meatballs. Serve over the noodles and sprinkle with parsley. Serves 4.

I'm linking up with Tasty Tuesday, Tuesdays at the Table, and Tempt My Tummy Tuesday

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Monday, December 6, 2010

Menu Plan Monday and Waiting for Baby!

It's been quite awhile since my last post and I'm very sorry. I've still been cooking and trying to keep my freezer full of make-ahead food. I've been working a lot but now that my schedule has eased up a bit I can plan a little better for what we eat and have more time to share it with you.
I find that if I shop the specials and loss leaders, I almost always have the ingredients I need to make meals that we enjoy. Our freezer is pretty full right now, so I really won't have to do much grocery shopping for the month of December except for special holiday baking and our Christmas dinner on Christmas day. We have two freezers: one in the kitchen above the refrigerator and one in our basement that is the chest type. I made a list of everything that was in each freezer and will be working with what we have for our meals. Here's the menu plan for this week, that is if I'm not at the hospital with our oldest daughter and son-in-law-she is due to have her baby any day now!!

Monday-Indonesian Ginger Chicken and Stir-Fry Vegetables (I will be sharing these recipes later this week!)

Tuesday-Monterey Beans, a recipe I got from The Urban Homemaker years ago, served over brown rice, green beans

Wednesday-Mustard Meatballs (another new recipe!), noodles, salad

Thursday-Lentil Chili (from the freezer) and cornbread

Friday-Pizza with mushrooms, onion, and green pepper

I'm linking up with Menu Plan Monday at I'm an Organizing Junkie